Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Library: a [fairy] tale of ‘good’ winning over inexperience

Little_Red_Riding_Hood_WPA_posterImage from a poster in the Library of Congress, in the public domain:

Bryony Ramsden is working on a fairy story, The Library: a [fairy] tale of ‘good’ winning over inexperience.

Flora realises she is lost, not when the canopy begins to obscure the sunlight, but when the roots of the buildings begin to seemingly purposefully trip and obstruct her path.  She withdraws further into her hood, and on looking down to check her footsteps, notices breadcrumbs.  They have evidently been there for some time, sodden from rain, blackened with mould, but they are definitely there, and appear to be leading the way along a track.  Looking up, Flora can just see through the buildings to a warm glow in the darkness, some way down the trail…

The Library is a story of a student’s journey of discovery of resources, spaces, staff and fellow students, as she travels through university life.  Presented via the medium of a fairy tale, it utilises personal and professional observations, research experience, and readings of other library research to provide a summary of how some students may in turns be confident and terrified of all that the academic library has to offer.  It describes encounters with those who impede and those who enable Flora’s progress throughout her travels, offering readers an alternative view of student learning and the opportunity to consider service and information literacy provision in a new way.

“Being Myself”

Gay_Liberation_Monument_(Manhattan)_-_01Image from Wikimedia Commons under licence.

Antony Osborne is creating a chapter for us called “Being Myself”: Contrasting informational journeys dealing with representations of gay male identity in the 1970s and 2010s.

This chapter deals with the role of information from a variety of media in representing gay identities the 1970s. There was an identifiable need for information about health, social events, emotional issues, and not least dealing with family & friends. However, there was simply little information to be had. The library shelves demonstrated a dearth of materials and the social mores of the time prevented open discussion. The few representations in the media were often unflattering, be they either documentary, comedy or newspaper reportage. The lack of availability of literature contrasts with the burgeoning Gay Liberation Movement which was becoming active in the 1970s. In many senses the information available at the time was very much based on the medical/mental health model from the 1950s and 60s and reflected the same prejudices.

This is in stark contrast to the 2010s where, in the internet age, there is so much information available that it has become part of a lucrative niche market for those wishing to exploit the “pink pound”.  The willingness of bookshops and libraries to host LGBT sections has brought a wide range of literature to its readers, but could this have contributed to information fatigue amongst its target audience? Certainly there is greater pressure to fit into one of the multiple gay identities that have emerged in the last 30 years and a growing culture of information avoidance that could have health impacts in later years.

This draws on personal experience, books and academic papers on the subject, but remains, at heart, a narrative.